The team heads to China on the back of a dominant one-two victory at Fuji, its third consecutive win on home soil, which saw TOYOTA establish an eight-point lead in the manufacturers’ World Championship.
Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, drivers of the #8 TS040 HYBRID, extended their lead in the drivers’ standings to 26 points with their third win of the season.
They will again race together alone in the #8. Nicolas Lapierre will again be absent.
Based on its experience in Fuji, the team considers it is the best option to continue with a two-driver line-up of Anthony and Sébastien in Shanghai and for the remaining races of the season.
The #7 crew of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima will be looking to score that car’s third consecutive pole position in Shanghai, having been the class of the field in qualifying for the past two seasons.
Last year’s visit to Shanghai ended in frustration, despite that pole position. The #8 car looked to be on its way to victory before suspension damage forced its retirement, while the #7 had to make do with second due to a late puncture.
However, TOYOTA Racing does have a winner’s trophy from Shanghai on display at its Cologne base; Alex and Nicolas piloted the #7 to a comprehensive victory there in 2012, the team’s first season of WEC competition.
The 1,000PS, four-wheel-drive TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing, which uses 25% less fuel in 2014 whilst delivering more power, is expected to be well suited to the 16-turn, 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit.
Practice in Shanghai begins on Friday with two sessions of 90 minutes (10.45 and 15.30 local time), with a final one-hour practice on Saturday (9.30) prior to qualifying (13.55). The race starts on Sunday at 11.00.
Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President: “After our one-two finish in Japan we have maximum confidence going to Shanghai. But we have to be fully focused on this weekend’s race; we cannot ease off in our battle for the World Championship. In the past, our TS030 HYBRID showed impressive performance in Shanghai, so we hope to continue that with the TS040 HYBRID. We know we will face tough competition as always; Audi and Porsche will be looking to hit back after Fuji so it should be an exciting and unpredictable fight this weekend.”
Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I am really looking forward to Shanghai simply because I have good memories of this track. The flow of the lay-out fits my driving style very well and I can find a nice rhythm, plus I have had some good results there; winning from pole position in 2012, and getting pole last year. I think the nature of the circuit should suit the TS040 HYBRID’s strengths so I am optimistic. Our one-two in Fuji was the perfect preparation so we are going full throttle for the last races of the season.”
Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #7): “I am quite excited to drive in China again. I like the track, which has some fast corners and interesting elements. It was a good race for us last year until we had some misfortune; both cars were very strong and very fast. Alex in particular was flying there! We have shown good performance all season so we should be confident again this weekend. Our target is clearly to increase our lead in the World Championship with another strong team result. We’ll be pushing as hard as we can.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS040 HYBRID #7): “It is exciting to be going back to Shanghai as it is the first time for me since 2009, and my first time to drive there in an LMP1 car. It is a tricky track which is not easy track to learn. It is hard on the tyres and can be difficult with traffic. We know we can be quick on this track so we aim to challenge for the win again, in what will be an important race for both World Championships. The end of the season is coming so it is important to score a lot of points.”
Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #8): “It’s great to be going to Shanghai in the lead of both World Championships; we will be giving our all to stay there until the end of the season. For me, Shanghai feels like unfinished business because we were controlling the race last year but had the technical issue. I am determined to make up for that and give the team another win in China. We’re all still buzzing from the Fuji result but we know we have three more races to go and we are determined to stay on top. It’s full attack from now until the chequered flag in Brazil.”
Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #8): “I am happy to be going to China, where we had a good experience last year until the problem. The team was on pole position and leading the race; our car was clearly quick. So I have some good memories of Shanghai and I want to enjoy an even better weekend this year. I think the circuit will suit our TS040 HYBRID so I expect and hope to have a good race. It can’t get better than a one-two from pole position in Fuji but we have to maintain that momentum as we fight for the World Championships. This is our target in the final three races.”